For a long time, the number of new coronavirus infections in Germany continued to rise. Now two important indicators look slightly better again. Is this just a temporary effect or a turning point after all?
For the first time in two months, the seven-day incidence of COVID-19 has fallen for two days in a row. The Robert Koch Institute (IRK) on Wednesday reported 82.7 new infections per 100,000 population in one week (Tuesday: 83.8; Monday: 84.3; Wednesday last week: 75.7). The most recent declines were two in a row in early July.
R ratio below 1
The R-index, also known as the virus’ reproduction rate, which determines how fast the virus is spreading, also offers hope for improvement. It has recently remained below 1 (Wednesday: 0.97), having previously been well above it for many weeks. The R-index indicates how many more people can be infected by one person sick with coronavirus. If it stays below 1 for an extended period of time, it means that the pandemic is dying out.
The number of new infections reported in a single day increased slightly from previous weeks. In one day, health authorities in Germany reported 13,565 new cases of coronavirus infections to the IRK. A week ago, the number was 13,531 infections.
Number of PCR tests not falling
It is not clear whether this positive change is just a temporary phenomenon or a trend reversal. Also when it comes to possible causes, we can only speculate for now. For example, the progress of the vaccination campaign or the contact behaviour of citizens could be at play.
What is certain, however, is that there has been no recent decline in the number of PCR tests performed – quite the opposite. It turns out that 10 percent more tests were performed in the week ending September 5 than in the previous week.
There are still big differences between eastern and western Germany when it comes to COVID-19 incidence. For example, in Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Thuringia it is under 40, while in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate it is over 100.
Adoption of a new criterion for assessing the epidemic situation
On Tuesday, the Bundestag decided that the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 should be the most important criterion; until now, politicians have mainly been guided by data on new infections when deciding on restrictions. On Wednesday, the IRK reported that the number of coronavirus patients admitted to hospitals in seven days was 1.79 per 100,000 population (1.69 on Tuesday). The previous maximum was about 15.5.
For hospitalizations, no nationwide threshold has been set beyond which the situation should be considered critical, due to large regional differences, among other reasons.
According to IRKI, an average of about ten days passes from infection to hospitalization, so this value reflects the situation for infections with a clear delay.
According to Wednesday’s data, 35 deaths were reported in Germany within 24 hours. A week ago, 23 people lost their fight against the coronavirus. Since the start of the pandemic, the IRK has recorded 4,030,681 confirmed infections with SARS-CoV-2. The actual total number is likely much higher because many infections go undetected.
The IRK also reported the number of recovered persons, which currently stands at 3,793,000. The number of people who have died from coronavirus or from COVID-19 coexisting with other conditions has increased to 92,448.